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Hermitage Tour in St. Petersburg on Viking Baltic Cruise


tpblazo
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I finally get to check off seeing the Hermitage from my bucket list in May 2022. My wife and I are doing the Viking Home Lands tour of the Baltic and one of our ports of call is St. Petersburg Russia. Alla Tours will be taking my wife and I on a two day tour of St. Petersburg and the surrounding area. The highlight for me is an early morning tour of the Hermitage on the first day. Seeing the Hermitage is my top bucket list item, and I can’t wait. Does anyone have tips for what to look for at the Hermitage or St. Petersburg in general?

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We loved that cruise in July 2019. You could spend several days at the Hermitage and still not see everything. The Gold Room in the Hermitage is a must see. 

 

St. Petersburg is a beautiful city and we would like to return. We enjoyed the Faberge Museum, Peterhof Palace and Yusupov Palace. We found the Catherine Palace a waste of our time. 

 

We also had time to appreciate the native Russian dancers and the St. Petersburg Ballet. Both well worth seeing. 

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We did the Homelands in 2016. Most amazing trip. We also did a private tour with Alla. Olga and our driver took us everywhere. 

The canal cruise gave us a very different perspective of the city.  Olga took us through the metro system.  We went down one metro station and rode a couple stops and came out another metro stop and our driver was there waiting for us. One of the most amazing things we saw in St petersburg,  with all the marble and chandeliers, something to see.

Wish I could do this cruise again.

Hope you have a wonderful time.

Edited by hersheyhughes
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Tom, 

Looking forward to this tour with Alla.  There is going to be so much to see that you can't take it all in in a day or even two days.  Appreciative of the comments by others who have gone before us.  Thanks!                   262D7D28-6AD9-4E25-8846-E2F70AF7E2C2_4_5005_c.jpeg.f0d07ebe9b3a060eca6f05b648dd1882.jpeg

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Edited by Guybgame
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We did the Viking Homelands cruise in June 2019. Had Elena as our guide on our 2-day Alla Tour of St. Petersburg - she is possibly the best guide we've ever had anywhere. We added on the Faberge Museum evening tour - fascinating. I think you can add on a ballet performance also, if that interests you. I don't think we could have crammed anything more into 2 days. We were extremely happy with our choice when we saw the lines at The Hermitage Museum (which included folks on the Viking tour) and we bypassed them through another entrance! If there is something specific that you want to see there, definitely ask about it. They try to hit the highlights. It's impossible to see everything as previously mentioned but I would think if you have something specific they'd probably try to route the group by it, if possible. We were on the Stockholm to Bergen route and had so much fun with the other Viking people in our Alla Tour that the 14 of us all got together for dinner twice during the rest of the cruise. Plan to spend extra time in Stockholm if possible, there is so much to see there. We arrived a couple of days early and saw a lot, but I'd love to go back for things we didn't have time for. I'd do this cruise again in a heartbeat if there weren't so many other places to go in the world that I haven't been yet! 

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The Hermitage is huge.  The collection is extensive.  Even with early entry the place will be jam-packed. 

 

You can't see everything so at least choose to see the kind of art you enjoy. Don't spend your time checking the Old Masters or Italian Renaissance when you would prefer to see 20th century art or even Classical Roman.  

 

When we planned our time at the Hermitage in 2007, I asked my daughter the art history major what we should see there.  She gave me a list (long since lost) and we dutifully saw them all -- she knows what we like. BTW, I gave the list to Alla well in advance of our arrival, so our guide could prepare.  

 

Guidebooks and the website give lists of the highlights. Art aficionados on line may have their top 10 lists.  Check them out. When we did the Louvre I worked with a list of paintings in the Louvre from  book called A Thousand Paintings to See Before You Die. We just wandered from gallery to looking for the paintings. 

 

And don't forget that the interior itself is a work of art.  

 

 

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5 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

The Hermitage is huge.  The collection is extensive.  Even with early entry the place will be jam-packed. 

 

You can't see everything so at least choose to see the kind of art you enjoy. Don't spend your time checking the Old Masters or Italian Renaissance when you would prefer to see 20th century art or even Classical Roman.  

 

When we planned our time at the Hermitage in 2007, I asked my daughter the art history major what we should see there.  She gave me a list (long since lost) and we dutifully saw them all -- she knows what we like. BTW, I gave the list to Alla well in advance of our arrival, so our guide could prepare.  

 

Guidebooks and the website give lists of the highlights. Art aficionados on line may have their top 10 lists.  Check them out. When we did the Louvre I worked with a list of paintings in the Louvre from  book called A Thousand Paintings to See Before You Die. We just wandered from gallery to looking for the paintings. 

 

And don't forget that the interior itself is a work of art.  

 

 

I agree wholeheartedly!  The building itself is amazing!  We went to the Hermitage with Viking's Waterways of the Czars river cruise in 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We did not have to wait in any lines for entry as we were with the tour and had some time "on our own" in the afternoon.  We opted to wander and admire the building and the grounds (and the wonderful cats!) rather than spend a lot of time in the galleries.  My art teacher daughter wanted to see the building more than the art most of which can be enjoyed on virtual tours.  There are of course some works that beg to be seen in person, but with limited time it pays to do your research.

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Sorry to disagree with Millybess but we found the gold room was not a good one to select.  The Russian guide had to be translated by the Viking guide and gave endless detail about the tiniest of  objects.  It didn’t help that the rooms were airless and stuffy and standing still for long periods of time is not for me.  I had mistakenly thought the amber room as pictured in the Viking brochure was what I was booking, but I now know that is not even at the Hermitage!  Perhaps I’m not into too much detail but we’d have been better doing the basic tour which moved more quickly.  

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We are hoping to go on the Viking Homeland cruise departing August 18 this year. I am not sure we will have the option of using non Viking excursions due to the Covid protocols. The following is extracted from the current Viking website here in the UK.

 

"To minimise potential risk, only Viking shore excursions will be offered while in port"

 

It will be interesting to see how long these Covid prevention protocols will remain as the Covid situation hopefully improves around the world following vaccine roll outs. I would expect them to remain into 2022 but not sure how deep into 2022 the excursion restrictions will apply.

 

Edited by NeilP57
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20 minutes ago, NeilP57 said:

We are hoping to go on the Viking Homeland cruise departing August 18 this year. I am not sure we will have the option of using non Viking excursions due to the Covid protocols. The following is extracted from the current Viking website here in the UK.

 

"To minimise potential risk, only Viking shore excursions will be offered while in port"

 

It will be interesting to see how long these Covid prevention protocols will remain as the Covid situation hopefully improves around the world following vaccine roll outs. I would expect them to remain into 2022 but not sure how deep into 2022 the excursion restrictions will apply.

 

 

Offered by whom? Can they prevent you from touring on your own?

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We took the VO Russia & the Baltic cruise in 2019.  It offered 3 days in St Petersburg and we booked a 3 day Grand tour with Alla.  Our guide was Angie.  Alla did a great job and Angie was the best guide we ever had-- very knowledgeable and a great sense of humor.  The. Hermitage was wonderful but really everything we visited was.  We saw everything on our "to see" list and more.  

 

Much better than anything Viking offered, as their tours were all one and done, so you had a morning tour, returned to the ship and then an afternoon tour.  We left each morning at 8 and returned at 5, tired and happy.

 

I would trust your guide to make sure you see all the highlights that time allows.

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7 hours ago, molymoo said:

I agree wholeheartedly!  The building itself is amazing!  We went to the Hermitage with Viking's Waterways of the Czars river cruise in 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We did not have to wait in any lines for entry as we were with the tour and had some time "on our own" in the afternoon.  We opted to wander and admire the building and the grounds (and the wonderful cats!) rather than spend a lot of time in the galleries.  My art teacher daughter wanted to see the building more than the art most of which can be enjoyed on virtual tours.  There are of course some works that beg to be seen in person, but with limited time it pays to do your research.

 

So the big difference between doing St. Peterburg as part of a Rivers cruise and doing St. Petersburg with an Oceans cruise is the visa situation.

 

On the Rivers cruise each passenger must obtain their own visa in order to be able to entry the country in the first place (since they are arriving by plane, not ship). With your own visa, you are can wander around on your own without a guide.

 

On the Oceans cruise, you do not have to spend the money for a visa but use the restricted visa that that is supplied through the tour company you have booked with as part of the booking. Restricted means that you must stay with your guide; you may not wonder off on your own to do whatever you want to do. The guide is responsible for you and can get in trouble if you wander off.

 

If mollymoo did not have her own visa, she would not have been allowed to separate from the group to explore the grounds; she would have had to stay with the tour group.

 

Even on an Ocean cruise, you could purchase your own visa but most people end up deciding that the cost for two or three days is not worth it.

 

 

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5 hours ago, duquephart said:

 

Offered by whom? Can they prevent you from touring on your own?

I think the implication of what Viking have said on their website is that when they resume cruising you will not be permitted to go off on your own and can only tour with an organised Viking excursion.

 

My question was I wondered how long this protocol may continue. I have heard many good reports of Alla tours in St Petersburg but I really do think this will not be an option for those visiting this year. 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, duquephart said:

 

Offered by whom? Can they prevent you from touring on your own?

We will be on this cruise, hopefully, in June this year. I sincerely hope Viking do prevent individuals doing their own thing on shore. Despite the Russian vaccine being authorised for use but the EMA (European Medicines Agency) many Russians are suspicious of the vaccine. I doubt if vaccination will be widespread this year.

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4 hours ago, NeilP57 said:

I think the implication of what Viking have said on their website is that when they resume cruising you will not be permitted to go off on your own and can only tour with an organised Viking excursion.

 

My question was I wondered how long this protocol may continue. I have heard many good reports of Alla tours in St Petersburg but I really do think this will not be an option for those visiting this year. 

 

 

 

 

 

Then why go?

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3 hours ago, duquephart said:

 

Then why go?

Because I am happy to accept the protocols that Viking are proposing and manage the risk by being in a controlled cruising environment. 
 

For those that don’t wish to accept these protocols then the reasonable options to rebook exists. 
 

it currently gives me comfort that when cruising returns, fellow passengers are not permitted to go off on their own, whether on private tours or flying solo. 

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We took the Viking Homeland cruise in 2019, our first Viking Ocean cruise. We are hooked and will probably never cruise any other cruise line again. (after many Princess, Norwegian, etc.) Can’t say enough good things about this cruise and Viking! The itinerary is wonderful. We added on the pre-cruise train ride from Oslo to Bergen, which we would do again in a heartbeat. The scenery was breathtaking. 
 

As to St. Petersburg, you cannot go out on your own without a pre-arranged visa, therefore Viking offers fantastic 2-day included excursions plus many other excursions to purchase. We did both! The Hermitage is enormous and a few hours is devoted to touring on the included tour. Longer tours are offered for a fee, but still no wandering on your own. A guide must accompany you everywhere. Once the excursions are posted on your MyVikingJourney.com page you can plan how you want to spend your time. We enjoyed every port on this cruise. Hope you do too!

 

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Pineapple - Our Viking sentiments match yours exactly. We've got a little time until our Viking Homelands cruise (April 2023), but your comments are greatly appreciated as you confirm what we planned to do. We booked this with the 125% credit from our cancelled British Isles cruise which was to happen next month. We have leftover credits and the plan is to use them for additional excursions in St. Petersburg. Do you have any recommendations regarding the optional excursions offered by Viking?

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We did the Homelands in 2018.  My DH enjoyed the Peterhof tour very much, which included early access which was much appreciated as he remarked it was over run later in the morning with large crowds.

 

We did the Canal cruise which was "meh", weather was lovely, but the experience was disappointing because it the excursion time on the water was cut short to only about about 30 minutes total  (as traffic was horrendous and the bus was very late to the landing  (in fact the bus ended up double parked on the opposite side of the canal and we had to hustle up about 2 blocks, cross the bridge and then back down to dock).

 If with the covid protocols, you are still able to take a private tour, I would highly recommend  it. Unfortunately, the large coaches that Viking uses for their excursions are often trapped in gridlock for long periods of time. 

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Squawkman—we only did 2 optional excursions in St. Petersburg. The first day we took the all-day included tour, which exceeded our expectations. It included some bus touring, the Hermitage, unbelievable lunch at a local restaurant in the heart of downtown, a canal cruise, touring Petrovsky Park, fort, cathedral, and much more. That night we chose an optional musical show of folklore singing & dancing. It was in a huge auditorium and had lots of rules, but enjoyable. No taking pictures unless you paid a fee! Lots of security, but that was the norm everywhere. Day 2 we took an optional excursion out of town to Catherine Palace. It was a bus ride about 45 minutes from the ship. It was stunning! We were even allowed to wander the grounds alone after a great tour of the palace. That afternoon we took another great included tour to other in-town locations and a Russian Orthodox cathedral. All guides were excellent. We were told the Peterhof Palace tour was also good. Just an aside...the ship docks in a section of old St. Petersburg near the ugly, grey communist block apartment buildings that are still used...then a short drive to decadent, colorful buildings!

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